NATO Designation "Fencer"
|Entered service in||1973|
|Dimensions and weight|
|Wing span||10.37 - 17.64 m|
|Weight (empty)||22.3 t|
|Weight (normal take-off)||36 t|
|Maximum ordnance||8 000 kg|
|Engines||2 x AL-21F-3A turbojet engines|
|Traction||2 x 109.83 kN (with afterburning)|
|Service ceiling||17 000 m|
320 km/h (at low altitude)
2 240 km/h (at high altitude)
|Combat radius||560 - 1 250 km|
|Ferry range||3 800 km|
|Cannon||GSh-6-23M, 23-mm aviation cannon|
|Missiles||Kh-23, Kh-25ML, Kh-25MP, Kh-29L, Kh-29T, Kh-29MP, Kh-31A, Kh-31P, Kh-35, Kh-58, Kh-59 "Osvod", R-60M|
|Bombs||TN-1000 and TN-1200 free-fall nuclear weapons; KAB-500Kr laser guided bombs|
The Su-24 Frontline Bomber was
developed to replace Yak-28 in the tactical bomber, reconnaissance and
electronic warfare roles. The Su-24 entered Frontal Aviation service in
1973 and with the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany in 1979. Form 1984 the
Su-24 saw active service in Afghanistan.
Aircraft is intended to attack ground targets in any meteorological, day/night conditions including bombing at low altitude. It is able to inflect a contour of relief at 200 meter height with a speed in 1 320 km/h. Such ability significantly increased survivability of the aircraft.
The Su-24 "Fencer" has a classical design with changed geometry of a wing. It also features side-by-side arranged seats in the cockpit. Cockpit is equipped with the 0-0 class ejection seats. Chassis design allows to operate bomber from poorly prepared ground airfields. "Fencer" features 8 armament hardpoints (4 underwing and 4 underfuselage). Two external wing hardpoints are always arranged parallel to the fuselage, independently from the wings angle.
The Su-24 is fast and stable at low level and can carry an impressive warload, albeit at the expense of an appreciable reduction in range. Unfortunately early versions were hampered by by poor quality, unreliable avionics and these shortcomings were addressed by the Su-24M "Fencer-D". Effectively a second-generation "Fencer" featured new "Orion" forward-looking radar, an infrared probe and a new PNS-24M navigation/attack system. The "Kaira" laser rangefinder and target designator gave compatibility with a new range of precision guided missiles.
The Su-24MK "Fencer-D" is a downgraded export version of the Su-24M. This aircraft was developed in the 1985 and since then a total of about 70 have been exported to Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
The Su-24M formed the basis of two specialized electronic warfare and reconnaissance variants. At the end of 80-ties there was developed a new modification of "Fencer-E". This aircraft was designated in Soviet Union as the Su-24MR. The highly versatile reconnaissance-configured Su-24MR "Fencer-E" has a comprehensive infrared, optical and electro-optical sensor suite. Podded electronic reconnaissance and side looking airborne radar systems provide radiation and electronic intelligence, or laser imagery. It lacks any offensive capabilities other than self-defense R-60 Air-to-Air Missiles.
The Su-24 MP "Fencer-F" is a dedicated tactical electronic warfare and electronic countermeasures aircraft and serves in limited numbers.
The Russian Naval Fleet Aviation operates around 70 Su-24 and Su-24M assigned to maritime attack, plus 12 Su-24 MRs Reconnaissance Aircrafts. Overall Russian Air Forces operate approximately 800 Su-24 aircrafts of various models. The Su-24 was used intensively during the war and anti-terrorist campaign in Chechnya. Recently Sukhoi Design Bureau is proposing a range of several Su-24 upgrades. Anyway Su-24M are planned to be replaced with the Su-34 similar purpose aircrafts.
After Russia, Ukraine is the next most significant operator with six Su-24 attack regiments, plus two regiments with Su-24MR/MPs. Ukraine has two independent reconnaissance regiments of the Su-24MR, one of which also operates small number of Su-24MP. Belarus retains one regiment equipped with the Su-24M. Other CIS operators are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan (which operates Su-24MRs).